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 >> Culture and History >> The History of TCM
The Ming Dynasty (1368~1644)

Characteristics of Medicine

The government of the Ming Dynasty (1368~1644) worshiped Confucianism and advocated the activities of loving one’s parents and brothers.  In such a circumstance, undertaking medical occupations was seen as an important way to fulfill that purpose.  Many intellectuals abandoned the road of being a government official, and engaged in medical careers.  As a result, the cultural quality, and the structural knowledge of physicians were greatly improved.  And as a result, the social status of practitioners increased.
LI Shizhen
In the later period of the Ming Dynasty (1368~1644), the development of materia medica had been sped up.  There came forth many far-reaching works, like Ben Cao Gang Mu (Compendium of Materia Medica), and Shi Liao Ben Cao (Materia Medica of Diet Therapy).
     Ben Cao Gang Mu (Compendium of Materia Medica)
There were great developments in disease diagnosis, case-writing format, compilation and dissemination of medical books, discussion of medical ethics, and exposition of medical history during the Ming Dynasty (1368~1644).  Meanwhile, academics in miscellaneous diseases underwent a comprehensive development, and achieved unprecedented prosperity during the Ming Dynasty (1368~1644).  These achievements made the academics of miscellaneous diseases more and more mature.  This had great impact on the academics of miscellaneous diseases in later generations.
Ben Cao Gang Mu (Compendium of Materia Medica)
During the Ming Dynasty (1368~1644), acupuncture and moxibustion had come into a new phase based on the groundwork achieved in the Song, Jin, and Yuan Dynasties (960~1368).  Needling techniques came into duplex manipulation from simplex manipulation.  Moxibustion with a moxa roll developed from moxibustion with a moxa cone.  A large number of compilations in acupuncture and moxibustion came forth, such as Zhen Jiu Ju Ying (A Collection of Gems of Acupuncture and Moxibustion) written by Gao Wu, Zhen Jiu Da Cheng (Great Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxbustion) written by Yang Jizhou  Besides these publications, many medical charts of points had been published during this period.
Invention of Variolation
Smallpox was seen in the first century.  In the long process of fighting against smallpox, the Chinese people developed several methods to prevent and treat the disease.  According to historical records, variolation had been invented sometime before the 16th century and was widely used throughout the country in the 17th century.  Zhang Shi Yi tong (Zhang's Treatise on General Medicine) written by Zhang Lu and Yi Zong Jin Jian (Golden Mirror of Medicine) compiled by Wu Qian all described the methods of variolation in detail.
In 1652, the method of variolation was introduced into Japan.  In 1688, it was introduced into Russia.  Then from Turkey it was introduced into England and other European countries.  Variolation is one of the most momentous inventions in the medical history of the whole world.  It effectively prevented smallpox from prevailing over the world.  Because of this, numerous children's lives were saved or relieved from being plagued by sequelae of smallpox. 
As a pioneering work in the history of immunology, variolation always directed the clinical practice in curing smallpox until British doctor Edward Jenner invented smallpox vaccination in 1796.
Medical Exchanges between China and Other Countries
Medical exchanges between China and other countries flourished with unprecedented vigor during the Ming Dynasty (1368~1644), especially between China and Korea, Japan, and European countries.  China and Korea exchanged physicians frequently, who had seminars, present lectures, and gave diagnosis.  In this period Korea took a great number of medical books and large quantities of medicinal substances from China.  All these promoted the development of Chinese medicine in Korea.
Medical exchanges between China and Japan flourished too.  These exchanges promoted the rejuvenation of acupuncture and popularity of the book Ben Cao Gang Mu (Compendium of Materia Medica) in Japan.
In terms of Sino-Europe medicine exchanges, a number of Western missionaries came China.  They served as a bridge of linking China and the Western world.  San Paolu Hospital was set in Macao in 1594.  It was also the first Western medical school founded in China.

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